All coronavirus-related protocols except masks for young students will be lifted in schools for the start of the 2021-2022 school year, and every school will need to be back in person, officials said on Thursday. from state education to superintendents.
School districts will not be permitted to offer distance learning as a standard learning model, according to new guidelines from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“The avenues that existed before the pandemic to deliver virtual learning to individual students in limited cases will remain available to districts and schools,” including single-district virtual schools or home or home tutoring programs. hospital for documented medical conditions, the public education agency said.
Upcoming changes to safety protocols for schools come as Massachusetts prepares to drop its remaining COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday. All industries will be allowed to reopen without restrictions, and fully vaccinated people will no longer need to wear masks except in certain situations.
State education and public health officials plan to work together this summer to create health and safety recommendations for wearing masks for elementary school students, who are not eligible for vaccines against the coronavirus.
Earlier this month, state education officials updated mask guidelines for Kindergarten to Grade 12 and day care centers, allowing children to stop wearing masks during school activities. outdoors, such as recess, to start sharing classroom objects again without disinfecting between uses.
In its advice on Thursday, DESE noted that while restrictions on coronaviruses will drop this fall, schools are encouraged to “maintain last year’s ventilation upgrades where possible, continue to practice ventilation. hand hygiene and expand policies that encourage students and staff to continue to stay home when sick. “
The current health and safety guidelines will remain in effect until the end of the school year.
Beth Humberd, mother of Andover and a prominent member of the Bring Kids Back MA parenting group, said Thursday night it was “encouraging and helpful” for the state to release this advice now, rather than wait for more. late this summer.
However, she is still concerned about the lack of clarity regarding the wearing of masks for young children.
“One of the things we really ask, as parents, is that whatever is going on for adults and for the state, can we get the kids in line with that?” she said. “Collectively, as parents of Bring Kids Back MA, we expect that there will be no additional unique restrictions for younger children, given their low risk profile associated with the virus, and we we urge it.
Documented cases of coronavirus transmission in schools have been extremely limited, and reports of coronavirus cases among students and staff at public schools have plummeted in recent weeks as more and more people have been able to do so. vaccinate.
Only 229 new cases of coronavirus among students and 21 among staff members were reported for the week that ended Wednesday; this was the lowest level on record of cases involving staff members in a single week.
Read DESE’s full advice:
Felicia Gans can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.